SC orders PIATCO to answer gov’t appeal on just compensation

By Perfecto T. Raymundo

MANILA, Oct. 6 (PNA) — The Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday ordered the Philippine International Air Terminals Company, Inc. (PIATCO) to comment on the appeal of the Office of Solicitor General (OSG) to reduce the amount of just compensation to be awarded to PIATCO.

Earlier the SC ordered the Philippine government to pay PIATCO USD 510 million by way of just compensation for the expropriation of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3.

During Tuesday’s en banc session of the SC, it has given PIATCO to submit its comment within a period of 10 days from notice.

This is in connection with the appeal of the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) arguing that PIATCO is not entitled to receive such amount for it had committed misdeeds.

In a Sept. 9 en banc unanimous decision, written by Associate Justice Arturo D. Brion, the SC has set the amount of just compensation at USD 267,493,617.26 as of December 2004, plus annual interest of 12 percent from September 2006 and another annual interest of six percent from July 2013 until full payment.

On Tuesday’s deliberation presided by Brion, it mandated PIATCO to file its comment and opposition to the government’s position.

In the Court of Appeals (CA) ruling, it ordered the Philippine government to pay over US 371 million to PIATCO.

The CA modified the 2011 ruling of the Pasay City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 117 awarding just compensation to PIATCO in the amount of USD 175.79 million, still less the over Php3 billion, or USD 59.44 million already paid to PIATCO in compliance with an SC ruling in 2004 that it had to be paid first for building the terminal before its actual takeover could proceed.

However, in a 28-page motion for reconsideration (MR), the OSG, represented by Solicitor General Florin Hilbay, it asked the SC to delete the award of interests to PIATCO in the amount of USD 242,810,918.54.

The SC was also asked to deduct the amount of USD 113,944,044, representing non-compliance with contract specifications by PIATCO, from the principal amount of compensation due.

With this, the OSG pleaded that the amount of just compensation must only be pegged at USD 163,959,441 less USD 59,438,604 already paid to PIATCO.

The OSG argued that by imposing 12 percent interest would be tantamount to allowing PIATCO to profit by its own misdeeds.

“If PIATCO had not violated the laws, the government would have had a guaranteed return of Php 17.75 billion and the public would not have been severely inconvenienced for more than 10 years with an unfinished airport,” the OSG said. (PNA)